Kanako's Kitchen

Osuimono II: Clear Egg-Drop Soup with Wakame

Posted in Recipe, soup, suimono, today's meal by Kanako Noda on November 12, 2009

Osuimono IIHere’s another of many possible variants on Osuimono, a simple clear broth that we use as the main alternative to miso soup. As always with Osuimono, this recipe is simple: a light, delicate broth with a couple of ingredients suspended in it, nothing more.

Whichever variant you choose, you’ll find there’s really not a lot to Osuimono. It takes a certain sensibility to appreciate a soup as austere as this one. But in Japan, this kind of thing is deeply appreciated.

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Hijiki Itame: Stir Fried Hijiki Seaweed with Greens and Sesame Sauce

Posted in Recipe, side dish, today's meal by Kanako Noda on November 11, 2009

Hijiki itameWARNING: The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has recently found unacceptably high levels of inorganic arsenic in Hijiki seaweed. They recommend you don’t eat it at all. (Warning added August 10, 2010)


Here’s a dish I first tried in Milan, of all places! Visiting one of my favorite Japanese artists, we were invited for dinner and presented with this heavenly, super-healthy dish of greens, Hijiki seaweed and sesame sauce. At my husband’s salivating insistence, I pressed our host for this recipe, and we’ve been making it in heavy rotation ever since.

Delicious though it is, I include it in the blog with trepidation. I’m well aware that finding Hijiki outside Japan is often very difficult, and as if that wasn’t bad enough, the sesame sauce (goma dare) can be tough to find, too.

The long and the short of it is that if you live in a big city with lots of Asian people, you have a chance: cross your fingers and ask for hijiki and goma dare by name at a well-stocked Japanese/Korean store. If you don’t live somewhere like Toronto or LA…I’m afraid this recipe’s not for you.

In honor of having discovered this dish in Italy, we usually use Cima di Rapa for the greens. But you could also make it with kale, chicory or mustard greens.

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Sasami-roll-katsu: Fried Chicken Breasts and Vegetable Rolls

Posted in main dish, Recipe, today's meal by Kanako Noda on November 7, 2009

sasami roll katsuSasami-roll-katsu is another variation on Katsu, Japanese cutlet. You see it on ton-katsu restaurant menus sometimes.

This is another dish that stretches the definition of “healthy”, but on the other hand chicken breast is a lot less fatty than pork, plus this dish fills them with vegetables. So this is still fried, but feels much lighter than ton-katsu.

In any case, my attitude is that it isn’t meals that are healthy or unhealthy, it’s diets. Eat sasami-roll-katsu four times a week and you have an unhealthy diet. Eat it once every two or three months and you have a delicious treat to look forward to as part of a healthy diet.

Preparation is quite similar to ton-katsu’s, but with a twist. Rather than just frying a cutlet, you’re making a kind of meat-and-vegetable roll, battering it, and frying the whole thing! It’s almost like a Japanese cordon bleu.

Making sasami-roll-katsu is not really difficult, but it will take time and your kitchen is going to be a big mess at the end. Sometimes, though, it’s worth it!

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Oyako-don: Chicken in Egg Sauce over Rice

Posted in Recipe, rice, today's meal by Kanako Noda on November 5, 2009

oyakodonHere’s a chicken-and-the-egg dish whose name is a bit of a play on words. Oya means parent and Ko = child. The don is short for donburi, a whole family of protein-in-sauce-over-a-rice-bowl dishes. So put it together and you get “parent-and-child-donburi”…get it?

Following much the same recipe you could also make Tanin-don, which uses pork instead of chicken. (Tanin means…wait for it…”strangers”). Or skip the meat and you end up with Tamago-don (tamago = “egg”). The sauce is the same in each: all of them are delicious.

A donburi is, by definition, nothing fancy. Yet, when it’s done well, oyako-don can be absolutely magnificent: a light, savory-sweet dream of chicken and egg over sticky rice.

This is the dish that first convinced my husband that Japanese food really is something special. On trips to Japan, he forces me to hunt around for the best Oyakodon, finally landing in a tiny restaurant in Kyoto famous for this dish. With a typical Kyoto taste, light and delicate, this dish transcends its junk food roots and comes very close to…well…a work of art.

This recipe is dedicated to our friend Juan who went to the Asian store in his home town and got confused – buying Japanese pepper (sanshyo) instead of Japanese peppers. He’s been wondering what to do with the pepper ever since. Well, Juan, oyako-don here is an excellent use for your sanshyo!

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Furofuki Daikon: With Leek and Miso Sauce

Posted in Recipe, side dish, today's meal by Kanako Noda on November 1, 2009

furofuki daikon and negi misoMy husband has recently developed an unhealthy fixation with daikon. I’ve tried to explain to him that it won’t hurt him to go without it for a day or two, but it’s no use: he’s obsessed. To quell the beast, I made him this Negimiso (leek and miso) sauce tonight, which goes spectacularly with daikon. He was pleased…until tomorrow.

In this recipe, I share an old kitchen trick for keeping the daikon’s color a brilliant white, even after long cooking: boiling the daikon twice, the first time in the water you used to wash rice. Since we didn’t make rice tonight, I used a little work-around that gives you pretty much the same result. Read on to find out how I did it.

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Chicory Itame: Chicory Topping for White Rice

Posted in Recipe, side dish, today's meal by Kanako Noda on October 31, 2009

chicory itameHere’s a home favorite that comes with its own story. When I was growing up in Shiga Prefecture, our next door neighbor was a keen gardner. Inoue-san loved to grow these big, delicious daikon radishes, and he was so successful at it that he would often end up with more than his family could eat.

At first, he would politely knock on our door to offer some of the surplus. After a while, we realized we could just knock on his door and ask: during the season, he always used to have some around. Come to think of it, I can’t remember my mom ever buying daikon from the store during daikon season: if she wanted some, she would just send us next door to fetch some.

Of course, when Mr. Inoue gave us a plant, he would give us the whole plant, not just the root. The recipe below is the one my mom developed as a way of using up the bitter leaves we got on top of the pulpy tuber.

Now that I live in Canada, I can’t get daikon leaves so easily. Luckily, I’ve found that chicory – which doesn’t exist in Japan – makes a very good substitute for them. (Dirty little secret: I actually like this recipe better than the daikon-leaf version!)

Tonight, I’m falling back on this old family favorite, and getting all nostalgic about my dear neighbor Inoue-san in the process.

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Yaki-udon: Stir Fried Udon Noodles

Posted in main dish, Recipe, today's meal by Kanako Noda on October 30, 2009

yakiudonLike everybody else in Kansai, I’m udon-crazy: there’s no udon dish I don’t love. This particular way to make udon – basically a fast noodle stir fry – is as unpretentious as Japanese cooking gets: a casual dish served to the hungry masses, typically  for lunch.

Usually, you would make yaki-udon with yakisoba sauce – a sweet-and-savory concoction close to the type of sauce we put on Japanese pancakes.

For this recipe, though, we do something a little different, relying on dashi. To make the seasoning, what we did is take some katsuobushi bonito flakes and some konbu and throw them in the blender!

Very easy…surprisingly delicious.

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